William Hollie Church

ID#411, b. 20 March 1914, d. 3 May 1914
William Hollie Church ~ 1914
Father: Eli Church
Mother: Lenora Susan "Nora" Summers

Birth date: 20 March 1914
Birth place: Moundsville, West Virginia, Born at home, believed to be on eastern Seventh Street.1,2

His name was also spelled as Wiliam Holly on a handwritten family record.

On 3 May 1914 William died at home (eastern Seventh Street, Moundsville, West Virginia) from pneumonia as a result of whooping cough.1,2,3

An obituary was published on 8 May 1914 the Moundsville Daily Echo.3 The following is a transcription of that obituary:

     A five weeks old baby of Mr. and Mrs. Church died Sunday night at its parents home on eastern Seventh street. Several members of the family have been very ill during the last few weeks"

[original spelling and punctuation retained]

Per a written family record, William was born on 20 March 1914 and died on 03 May 1914 at the age of 1 month 14 days (six weeks). A single paragraph obituary published in the Moundsville Daily Echo on Friday, 08 May 1914, reported that "a five weeks old baby of Mr. and Mrs. Church died on Sunday night," which would have been 03 May 1914.

The Marshall County Death Register includes two entries on the same page that both recorded 03 May 1914 as the date of death:
(1) Wm. R. Church, age 1 mo 13 days, born at E 7th St, Moundsville, died from pneumonia as reported by physician L. H. McCuskey.
(2) Wm H. Church, age 2 mo, born in Moundsville, died from whooping cough as reported by Eli Church, his father.

I believe that all of these documents and records are for the same little boy even though there are several inconsistencies:
-- The Death Register entries were written in two clear, but very different and distinctive hands; as two persons were involved the chance of realizing there was any duplication was minimal.
-- The difference in the middle initial could have been a transcription error when a clerk made the entry in the Register of Deaths or the doctor may have simply mis-reported it; "H" was the correct initial as reported by his father.
-- The family record and the physician are only 1 day apart in reporting William's age at death, most likely a simple calculation error. The newspaper and Eli both reported the age incorrectly.
-- The physician reported the exact place of birth (street and city) whereas Eli simply reported the city.
-- According to MedicineNet.com, the most common complication and the cause of most whooping cough-related deaths is secondary bacterial pneumonia, with young infants being at highest risk for both. So the two reports actually support each other: the primary cause of death was pneumonia, secondary cause was whooping cough.1,2,3

Photograph of William in his casket. Date taken: about 3 May 1914. Location: unknown. Although a picture of a six-week old infant in a casket may seem offensive today, this quote from Women's Diaries of the Westward Journey by Lillian Schlissel provides another viewpoint while writing about the pioneers who settled the western part of America:
     "Among a people whose lives were often scarred by the death of children, the photograph quickly became a cherished souvenir. Such pictures might be placed on a mantel or table in a sitting room."
     While the Church family was not on a westward journey, William's death when only 6 weeks old may well have occurred before any other photographs of him had been taken, thus making this a most cherished photo. A valuable lesson may have been learned, as a picture of William's younger brother, Arles Lloyd Church, was taken as he sat in his mother's lap. This proved to be a fortunate thing as he died when only a few months old. Click on camera to view full (or larger) image than the one shown here, then use your browser's back button to return to this page.4
Family Line(s):
Church Index
Last Edited Date=10 Sep 2016


  1. [S494] William H. Church, Marshall County Register of Deaths, electronic image by West Virginia Archives & History, online http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_dcsearch.aspx, file 4132553_00170.jpg.
  2. [S48] Church Family Record, copy of handwritten document, in possession of Jo Ellen Dalton.
  3. [S327] Five week old baby obituary, Moundsville Daily Echo, Moundsville, West Virginia, weekly edition, 08 May 1914, first section, page 6.
  4. [S68] Photograph of William H. Church taken circa 03 May 1914. From collection owned by Lela (Church) Leach, inherited by her son, Robert H. Leach. Digital scan of original photo made by Jo Ellen (Kuhn) Dalton.